How to bounce back after a poor gardening season in the vegetable garden

How to bounce back after a poor gardening season in the vegetable garden

Experiencing a poor gardening season in your vegetable garden can be disheartening, but don’t give up on growing vegetables!

Have you had a poor gardening season recently? I know I have…

This past summer has been a pretty poor gardening season for me. So many of my usually reliable vegetables failed to produce a decent crop, and some didn’t manage to produce any vegetables at all.

It’s been incredibly disappointing after the time and effort I’d put into growing plants from seed or buying seedlings, planting them out, and weeding and caring for them.

What grew well, and what didn’t, last season?

Here are my top crops and top fails, as it might be the same for you (so you know you are not alone!):

Top harvests:

  • Butternut squash – from three plants, I harvested around 40 butternut squash. A great result, especially as they can be stored as they are, and used throughout the autumn and winter.
  • Cucumber – early in the summer growing season, these were so prolific, we couldn’t keep up with them. After February the plants started to die off, although I still have one plant producing and it’s the end of April – pretty late for cucumbers.
  • Lettuce – pretty successful summer for lettuce; as it wasn’t very hot, they didn’t go to seed quickly like they can do in hotter weather.
  • Nasturtium grew like weeds, and dropped seeds everywhere, so I think I’ll have more of those in the garden in future!

Failed crops:

  • Absolutely no capsicums grew from the 25 plants I planted. The plants grew a little, but did not thrive at all.
  • The tomato harvest was about half of what I usually get, and was ready much later in summer than expected (tomatoes were ripe around February, rather than late December/early January.
  • Hardly any peaches, plums, or apples on the fruit trees.
  • Even some flowers like marigolds were very poor this past summer.

A review of my poor gardening season

Despite such a letdown of a summer growing season, I have to remember that gardening is a learning process, and even experienced gardeners face challenges sometimes. Many things, such as the weather conditions, were out of my control.

After thinking about what went well and what didn’t, here are some tips on how to bounce back after a poor season in your vegetable garden:

Assess the situation

Take some time to evaluate what went wrong during the previous growing season. Did you face unfavorable weather conditions, pest infestations, or disease outbreaks? Did you plant the wrong varieties of vegetables for your region or soil type? Did you neglect proper watering, fertilizing, or pruning?

Understanding the reasons behind the poor season will help you make informed decisions moving forward.

For me, the persistently rainy start to summer, and the lack of hours of sunshine were big factors in my poor harvest of vegetables. This is particularly the case for plants such as capsicums and eggplants, that need the warmer temperatures to grow and ripen their vegetables.

Soil preparation

Healthy soil is the foundation of a successful vegetable garden. Test your soil to determine its pH level, nutrient levels, and overall health. Improve the soil as needed by adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to improve its fertility, structure, and drainage.

In my situation, I had added many bags of horse manure a few months before the time for planting my seedlings. I wonder if I didn’t leave it to decompose in the ground for long enough, and this wasn’t great for the seedlings roots.

Plan for the upcoming season

Develop a growing plan for the upcoming season. Consider factors such as:

  • crop rotation,
  • planting dates,
  • spacing, and
  • companion planting.

Choose appropriate vegetable varieties that are suitable for your climate, soil, and available sunlight.

I need to take my own advice, and practice better crop rotation, as I have planted capsicums and tomatoes in the same vegetable beds for a couple of years now. Time to draw up a better plan for next spring and summer!

Pest and disease management

Implement a proactive approach to pest and disease management. Use physical barriers, such as row covers or netting, to protect your plants from pests. Practice good garden hygiene by removing plant debris and weeds that can harbor pests and diseases.

This previous poor gardening season, I didn’t have many problems with pests and diseases in the garden. But I could definitely benefit from weeding the vegetable beds more thoroughly, as weeds sometimes took over.

Watering and fertilizing

Provide your plants with adequate water and nutrients. Water deeply and consistently, avoiding over-watering or under-watering.

Mulch around your plants to conserve moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Use organic or balanced fertilizers to replenish nutrients in the soil and promote healthy plant growth.

My garden was very well watered over the summer season, as it barely stopped raining! Watering was not an issue but too much rain contributed to my poor gardening season, as the air temperature was lower than usual.

Care and maintenance

Regularly inspect your plants for signs of stress, disease, or pests. Prune your plants to promote air circulation and remove dead or diseased parts. Practice proper weed control to prevent competition for nutrients and sunlight.

My vegetable plants often get away on me, in terms of fast growth soon after planting out seedlings. One of my goals for next summer, especially with tomatoes, is to keep up with their fast growth with pruning and staking them up properly.

Learn from your mistakes

Gardening is a learning process. Reflect on the mistakes made during the previous season and use them as lessons to improve your gardening practices moving forward. Keep a garden journal to track your observations, successes, and failures, and use that knowledge to make better decisions in the future.

From this poor growing season in my garden, I have learnt a lot of things that I need to do differently in future.

Have you had a poor gardening season recently? What can you learn from it?

Gardening requires time, effort, and perseverance. By learning from mistakes, we can bounce back after a poor season and enjoy a successful vegetable garden in the future.

Comment below with what happened in your vegetable garden, and what you would do differently next season.

What to grow in your garden at different times of year?

Check these links for useful information about growing vegetables in your garden at different times of year. And also see the links below for general advice on growing veges, from my articles and from my favourite gardening blogger.



General advice on growing vegetables:

Gardening blogs:

Seeds and plants for Poor Gardening Season article

2 thoughts on “How to bounce back after a poor gardening season in the vegetable garden”

  • I have had great success in New Zealand this year with summer crops of zucchini, beans, Tomatoes, pumpkins, and silverbeet. The biggest failures were all the fruit, including grapes, nectarines, figs, feijoas, mandarins(winter crop) and pears. All the feijoas trees had to be cut down as a result of so much rain, which has been from January through to June 2023, which resulted in all the feijoas succumbing to rot, and the other fruit trees have produced absolutely nothing edible, so I guess this must also be caused by incessant rainy weather

    • Sounds like you had some great crop successes, Brigida. So sorry to hear that you lost your feijoa trees though, that is pretty sad.

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